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Supporting Good Authors Isn't a Mystery
By Melissa Schack
Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born mystery writer based in Singapore. She has written two novels set in Japan: Rainbirds and her most recent work, The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida. In Perfect World, the author explores the identity of Miwako Sumida, a university student who dies by suicide and the impact it has on the people around her.
You can find her on Twitter @ClaireClaire05 and Facebook/Instagram @ClarissaGoenawan.
Suicide is a difficult subject to tackle. What inspired you to write The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida?
I’m fascinated with the idea that often, we thought that we know a person really well, but actually, we don’t. How far would you go to uncover the truth? And what if the truth is more painful than the lies?
Do you have a favorite quote from your book that you would like to share with us?
Perhaps it's kind of clichéd, but I like the first sentence. "Before I knew it had happened, I’d fallen in love with Miwako Sumida." Whenever I read it, it gives me a sense of youthful exuberance.
How has COVID-19 affected your career and your personal life?
Most of my book events have been canceled or postponed, and shipments are delayed. This is a challenging time, especially for those of us whose books are coming out during this period. Book launches are precious because they allow writers to connect in person with readers. They’re also a significant celebration, after working on our project for years.
On a personal level, having the kids at home (thankfully, the schools recently re-open) can be extremely challenging to working parents.
That being said, I’ve been heartened to see the outpouring of support from the reading community. Many book lovers step up to help get the word out. This is a tough period, but together, we can overcome it.
Why is it important for people to support the arts, even during times of uncertainty?
Rather than arts, I would say, continue to advocate good causes you believe in, whatever it is. In a difficult time, our support becomes especially crucial. Every single contribution matters.
What are your book recommendations for those who are looking for material to read during mass quarantine?
I read mainly Japanese fiction, so my recommendations are heavily skewed towards that.
- Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, translated by Dorothy Britton
- Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, translated by Megan Backus
- The Professor and The Housekeeper by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder
- Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
- Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Allison Markin Powell
I picked these five books because the stories are heart-warming and gentle. Coincidentally, all of them are the works of female authors. I also include the names of the books’ translators to acknowledge their contribution in bringing these books to a wider audience.
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